The Eagles led the Cardinals with two minutes to play Sunday. The offense racked up 521 yards of offense, and they made big play after big play. The defense, a pair of big gains aside, looked sturdy. They just couldn't quite finish off the Cardinals in Arizona.
After his team came just short of snaring its sixth win of the year, head coach Chip Kelly said he saw both good, and not-so-good, from his squad on the afternoon. Going forward, he said, he just needs his players to tighten up.
Kelly said it starts with reducing the number of turnovers they commit. The Eagles committed four turnovers Sunday.
"We can't turn the ball over," Kelly said after the game. "We turned the ball over twice in the red zone."
He said that he wanted to see quarterback Nick Foles make a few better decisions with the ball when pressured. Checking down to a shorter pass or even taking a sack, he said, is a better option than throwing an interception.
"We talk about it all the time - you can't turn the football over and be a successful football team," Kelly explained. "We've got to clean that up, especially in a game like this against a really good, quality opponent. We turned it over twice inside the red zone, and if you do that you're going to lose the football game."
Kelly was pleased with the way his team moved the ball through the air, as Foles completed 36 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns. He knew his offense could pass it on the Cardinals, and said that was a big part of his game plan coming in. For the most part, it worked Sunday. He just needs Foles to tighten a few screws as he moves forward to Week 9.
On the defensive side, Kelly said he really liked what he saw from his defensive line in terms of moving Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer off of his spot and forcing throws throughout the majority of the game. He just wished they could have limited the Cardinals' ability to convert X-plays - the big ones that, in the end, won the game for Arizona.
"I thought our defense played really well, except for a couple X-plays that you want to limit," Kelly said. "They had the long pass to Fitzgerald at the beginning of the second half, and then [the game-winning pass to John Brown], I think those were the two X-plays. But other than that I thought our defense played really well."
Kelly said his decision to kick a field goal with 2:00 left in the game instead of go for it on 4th and inches from the 1-yard line was based largely on his confidence in his defensive unit.
"I thought our defense to that point was playing really, really well," Kelly explained. "I had a real confidence in them and I told them that we were kicking the field goal because I had confidence in our defense at that point in time."
Despite a few shortcomings on both sides of the ball, the Eagles were still a couple of plays from winning Sunday's contest. They did a lot of good things Sunday afternoon against a very good football team.
Kelly took time to praise wide receiver Jeremy Maclin's standout performance. Maclin caught 12 balls for 187 yards and two touchdowns, setting a career-high in yards in a single game.
"I thought [Maclin] played a great game," Kelly said. "We're starting to see him round back into shape in terms of just total confidence and running around out there."
There were a number of positive takeaways from Sunday's game, Maclin included, and a few key points where Kelly will focus this week's training and film sessions.
The Eagles know they were just a few plays from moving to 6-1, and they'll have a new chance to tighten those loose screws and snag that sixth win next Sunday in Houston.